Remember: Writing is a Positive and Constructive Process

I know it doesn’t feel that way…



Just look at all the pithy advice: show DON’T tell, DESTROY adverbs, KILL your darlings. It really shouldn’t be that much of a surprise that forums are filled with people panicking about all the things that could be wrong with their writing.

Now I’m not saying that writing doesn’t require a thick skin, that producing some good material isn’t going to require some combination of wrecking balls, flame-throwers and/or hacksaws.


I am saying that its easy to forget that the whole point of merciless editing and critique isn’t exactly to purge all evil from your draft or WIP but to polish that which is good. I’m sure some folk will read this and go “waaah thanks for reminding me there is noting good about it!”

My point is not to really rub in the harsh critique, what I’m trying to get at is: stories work because there is a powerful, enjoyable, heartfelt whatever tale in there that people like to read. Because us writers tend to hang with each other and because our concerns are often ‘what’s wrong’ with our WIP its easy to get into a mindset where writing isn’t about doing something good, its about avoiding all those nasty problems my last pieces had.

But readers aren’t looking for a perfectly polished story, editing isn’t about (or in my opinion shouldn’t be) preventing criticism but rather ensuring the goodness has as much oomph as it could.

There are two reasons I think this is important to remember – 1: It’s easy to get lost on the path of ‘no mistakes’ and lose what makes a story good in the first place. and 2. I think the general culture of ultra-criticism (i.e. honest trailers, cinemasins and various literature critique posts etc) which I confess I do indulge in myself, is a great recipe for writers block.

None of this is to say that I think we should all go full hippy-dip and just celebrate the beauty of our writing without any consideration of critique – after all all these writing critiques exist for a reason. What I am saying is remember the reason for editing and critique is to give the most POWER to your story, not a pointless exercise in trying to avoid criticism.


Best of luck with your writing projects everyone, thanks for stopping by and – as always – let me know your thoughts! 🙂



4 thoughts on “Remember: Writing is a Positive and Constructive Process

  1. I think you can add to this that telling, using adverbs, and other taboos aren’t even necessarily mistakes. To many writers and editors take those rules to the extreme, rather that using them as guidelines. There’s nothing wrong with using adverbs or telling, when it aids the story. I think that extremism can add significantly to the stress writers get during the revision process. And, as you say, the impossible goal of perfection.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “editing isn’t about … preventing criticism but rather ensuring the goodness has as much oomph as it could.”

    What a great sentiment! Makes me think of curating elements of story and craft to say what you really want to say. I’ll keep this in mind the next time I’m frustrated during revision.


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